Why the Twitter Buy-Button was doomed to fail

Twitter is making headlines today. As Alex Kantrowitz, News Reporter at BuzzFeed, broke the story, that the company has most recently curtailed product development on its Buy Button and shifted its commerce team into other divisions within the company. What seems to be surprisingly at first, could have been foreseen: In fact, the Twitter Buy Button was doomed to fail.

E-Commerce combined with social networks has been the holy grail of the last twenty years. It seems so obvious but has never worked until now. The latest trend of Influencer Marketing is finally putting a dent into this thesis, but specifically on Youtube and Instagram.

If Social and E-Commerce is coming closer, then why did the Twitter Buy Button failed and what about Facebook and Pinterest? First of all maybe a very short introduction to those three options their differences and similarities. While the Twitter Buy Button is oversimplified just an ad with a Buy Button that sends you to the shop, Facebook and Pinterest try basically the marketplace approach where the complete checkout happens on their platform. And there we have the first big issue: Although by now every online shop should be mobile optimised. As a consumer it is still annoying to sign up to every single shop, specifically for the first time which make the user acquisition quite expensive for new customers. Facebook and Pinterest already figured this out and basically can divide this acquisition cost over all advertisers on the platform.

The much bigger issue which affects all of them though is buying intent. Usually you are on Facebook to check what’s happening in the world, you are on Twitter to get the news from your social-bubble and you are on Pinterest to be inspired. You are not there with a clear buying intent. Why is this important? Everyone is obsessed with targeting, but actually timing is the much, much bigger issue for shopping. If you are not actually looking for a new pair of trousers, it doesn’t matter if it is shown to the right person and that is where all of them fail at the moment. Twitter doesn’t even succeed at targeting; their ads are often so out of place that you have to wonder who in the world would think a German user would install a Japanese app that is Japanese only. Facebook is doing much better and combined with retargeting actually working much more on not just getting the target group right, but also the timing.

So if you work in ecommerce dont only think about targeting, but also timing and buying intent.

About the author:

Fabian Spielberger is founder of @Pepper.com, the worlds largest shopping community with 9 brands in 11 countries. The largest communites are Hotukdeals.com in the UK, mydealz.de in Germany and Dealabs.com in France.